BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – Brandon Neeck, Will Geerdes and Matt Wyatt combined for a two-hit shutout as Virginia (1-0) opened the 2022 season with a 1-0 victory over Bellarmine (0-1) at the Jerry Bryson Classic hosted by Gardner-Webb University.
The Cavaliers won their third-straight season opener and improve to 14-5 on opening day under head coach Brian O’Connor. It marks the second time in three seasons Virginia has opened the year with a shutout.
An RBI double down the right field line by sophomore Jake Gelof proved to be the difference in the contest. Junior Chris Newell reached on an error a batter earlier, stole second base and scored the game’s lone run.
Making his first career start on the mound, Neeck did not allow a hit until the fifth inning. He retired the first six batters he faced and struck out the side in the fourth inning. He exited with one out and the bases loaded in the fifth. Neeck allowed one hit over 4.1 innings, surrendered one hit and struck out four in the no-decision.
Geerdes inherited the bases loaded situation and induced an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play. Shortstop Griff O’Ferrall fielded the slow ground ball, flipped it to Max Cotier at second and the turn beat Knights centerfielder Jack Ockerman by a half of a step.
Geerdes went on to retire the first seven batters he faced and finished his day by stranding the tying run at second in the top of the eighth. Geerdes earned the win after he pitched 3.2 innings, allowed one hit and struck out a pair.
Wyatt closed the door for UVA in the ninth needing only eight pitches to earn his second career save.
From Head Coach Brian O’Connor
“It was a hard-fought win, great pitching and great defense. I thought we played spectacular defense, turned some double plays and made some clutch plays. Will Geerdes was really the story the game. He came in, out of the bullpen (with the) bases loaded and got us to the ninth inning and did a great job. With the wind blowing in, it wasn’t a great day from an offensive standpoint but their starting pitcher did a terrific job. He kept us off balance and really did a nice job. When you win the first one in a season, you’ll take it and you move to the next one.”
- Six different Cavaliers recorded a hit in the contest. Freshman leadoff man Griff O’Ferrall collected his first collegiate hit with a single to right field on the first pitch he saw in the top of the first inning.
- O’Ferrall and classmate Ethan Anderson made their collegiate debuts in the contest. Geerdes logged his first inning of work in a college baseball game since March 7, 2020. A transfer from Columbia University, Geerdes did not pitch in 2021 after the Ivy League canceled the season.
- Chris Newell was credited with a career-high, three stolen bases in the contest. He’s the first Cavalier to steal three bases in a game since March 29, 2017 when Adam Haseley swiped three against VCU.
- Sophomore Kyle Teel went 1-for-4 at the plate, extending his reached base streak that dates back to last season to 27 games.